SHRM-Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota Joint Survey: Workplace Wellness Programs Can Lower Health Care Costs

Dec 6, 2012

Alexandria, Va. – Obesity, stress, and lack of exercise top the list of health conditions that most concern employers according to a joint, national survey released today by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota.

The “Workplace Wellness Initiatives Survey”also shows that nearly half—49 percent—of HR professionals cite containing health insurance costs as the top health-related issue for organizations.

Also important is reversing decreased productivity (say 35 percent of respondents) and absenteeism (say 30 percent of respondents).

Nearly one in three, or 27 percent, of HR professionals say decreasing workers’ compensation or disability claims is an important organizational priority when it comes to health-related issues.

“The advantages of having a healthy, fit workforce are likely the reason why more than half of organizations currently have wellness programs,” said Alex Alonso, vice president of research at SHRM.

Fifty-five percent of organizations represented in the survey have worksite wellness initiatives in place.

HR professionals report additional key findings:

  • More than one-half, or 52 percent of respondents, say worksite wellness initiatives are effective in improving worker productivity;
  • The same number, 52 percent, also say wellness initiatives are effective in reducing the organization’s health care costs;
  • Nearly one-half—47 percent—say wellness initiatives are effective in reducing worker absenteeism;
  • More than three-fourths—76 percent—of HR professionals say less than 10 percent of their organization’s budget is spent on worksite initiatives; and
  • The same number—76 percent—of HR professionals also report that less than 25 percent of their organization’s budget is spent on health insurance coverage.

Roughly four in 10 (42 percent) organizations track the return on investment, or ROI, for wellness initiatives.

“Employers are realizing that wellness initiatives represent a solid business strategy with myriad benefits," said Tom Mason, president of the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota, which oversaw the project.

The wellness survey also shows that:

  • 24 percent of HR professionals say obesity and being overweight is the greatest threat to employee health; 23 percent cite stress and other mental health issues; and 15 percent cite lack of exercise and fitness; and
  • 11 percent cite chronic disease and 11 percent also say high blood pressure is an employee health concern.

According to the survey, 50 percent of employees who participate in employer-sponsored wellness initiatives receive a financial incentive.

To read the complete survey, click:

The 406 responses are from randomly selected SHRM members who are HR professionals.

Follow SHRM Research on Twitter @SHRM_Research.

Follow SHRM news announcements and more on Twitter @SHRMPress.

Follow Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota on Twitter @HealthierMN.


About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 260,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at

About the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota

Members of the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota are united in the common belief that when we work together and provide the right tools for prevention, we can help Minnesotans live longer, healthier lives. The group believes employers can drive true healthcare reform through health and wellness campaigns, and in working together for the common good. The Alliance believes healthier communities will make for healthier people, healthier corporations and healthier economies. We create and promote fun and engaging competitions. We look for ways to partner with schools, healthcare providers, small business and government. Ultimately, the group will serve as a catalyst for multi‐sector thought leadership and community action throughout the state by creating a social movement.


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